The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Amendment) Bill, 2022, as amended by the Senate, has been passed by the National Assembly.
Drafted by the Ministry of Human Rights, the bill aims to facilitate increased participation of women in the workforce and remove several lacunas from the present anti-harassment law in Pakistan.
The bill increases the ambit and scope of the law to include certain professions and employment models that the current legislation does not expressly mention, and provides protection from harassment to people engaged in all types of work – formal and informal.
To provide further clarity to the issue, the amendment bill defines different kinds of harassment that may take place at the workplace.
The bill amends several definitions provided in the Act, particularly those of ‘complainant’, ’employee’, ’employer’, ‘harassment’ and ‘workplace’, aiming to remove ambiguities that litigants have faced in the past and increase the scope of ‘workplace’ to include all forms and categories of work.
The bill also establishes timelines for appeals against orders of the Ombudsman under the Act.
The issue of workplace harassment has recently received national attention due to the high-profile case between musicians Meesha Shafi and Ali Zafar. In the case, Shafi complained that she was forced to work with her alleged former abuser, Ali Zafar. Zafar has denied all allegations.